So the family went to Disney last week and it was a fun trip. We spent a lot of time at Magic Kingdom and Epcot. I was lucky enough to miss the Animal Kingdom because I decided to go rogue and spend the best money I have ever spent at any theme park. I took the “Key’s to the Kingdom” tour. This tour was something I read about online when I couldn’t sleep one night. On Wednesday night I called the 1-800 number to book it, but they told me I couldn’t book “same day”. So the next day I woke up early, and headed straight to the Magic Kingdom on Thursday, but they told me all the spots were full. I was a little discouraged they couldn’t squeeze me in, but I understood. I called later that day and paid my $70 some dollars to take the 9:30 on Friday, June 12th. It was probably for the best as it was some of the best money I ever spent and our guide was tremendous.
I’ll start at the beginning of the tour. We walk up and they have our names already on name plates and tell us to grab a bottle of water. It’s fairly hot outside, and we are greeted by our guide Jessica. At first, I just wanted to cry for her. She appeared to be a very nice, sweet girl, but for some reason WDW hates her because they make her rock what appears to be the hottest clothing attire you could her to wear. Just imagine some sweat shop combo of a wool skirt, a puff sleeve shirt, and a thick vest. I was in shorts and a T-Shirt and was hot, I can’t imagine. Poor guide. With that being said, she never complained, kept us dry from the rain, and you could tell she really loves Disney.
Now tours in general. They quality of a tour starts with a good guide. As someone who has given tours and been on many, I know what good looks like and what crappy ones look like. Our group is about 20 people, and it’s a hard thing to get a handle on the personalities of any group. This group is people from all over the country, some married, some single, some nice, some crazy. You have the mother and daughter from Mississippi, a husband and wife from Nevada, and then you have the larger lady who has to pull out her collapsible seat from her backpack every chance she gets, and then must pull her sweat covered cell phone from her bra, and it literally drip. This same lady is rocking her “Just Engage” button with her fiancée and when someone asks how long they’ve been engaged, her answer was, “15 months”. Yeah. Just engaged…
Anyways, Jessica started out by making everyone participate in answering questions about Disney’s 4 worldwide work philosophies...SAFETY, SHOW, EFFICIENCY, AND COURTESY. She was able to get everyone involved and made the trip not just fun, but we were able to learn a lot.
We started out walking down Main Street USA and she pointed out all sorts of little things you would never notice as you walk down the street. How walking down the street is like going to a movie. From the popcorn smell as you walk in, to the “credits” on the windows of people who made this park happen. From Roy Disney, to M.T. Lott, to Walt Disney, they all lead up to the big show.
I thought "M.T. Lott" was pretty darn clever. (Empty Lot? (rim shot)) Under that there was some others such as the "Latin-American Development and Managers Corporation" and the "Reedy Creek Ranch Corporation". Walt used those fake companies to purchase swampland and old cattle pastures. Jessica told us that Walt bought about 95% of the park for around $180 per acre. After it was discovered, the price jumped, and the last 5% cost about the same total amount as the first 95% cost.
Another thing she pointed out was a technique heavily employed at Disney World, which is "forced perspective." This is the construction of buildings with smaller details on top, resulting in the impression of height without imposing an overbearing sensation. The first floor of Main Street structures are full size, the second floors are 7/8 in size, and third floors are 5/8 in size. They also add a lot of fancy, ornate trimmings get smaller the higher they go.
She talked a lot about the park being clean and pointed out this and that about the core 4...SAFETY, SHOW, EFFICIENCY, AND COURTESY.
She later walked us through a subtle change from one “land” to another. How the music fades, the plants are subtly different and ever the trash cans change. It was a definite “Ah ha” moment as she walked us through that.
We rode the Jungle Cruise and learned a lot about Walt and the jungle cruise. I particularly liked the “bottomless-potamus”. We walk around and got to go “back stage”. We saw the electrical parade floats (Even Elliot from Pete’s Dragon – so underrated) and how the trash is moved in the park. It may sound lame, but it was interesting to see how it works. We walked through frontier land and then went to eat at Columbia Harbor House. Food was on our plates, and ready to go. Pretty nice touch.
We then walked towards the Haunted Mansion and she spent a good amount of time talking about Roy Disney and then several other cool guys you may not have heard of. Marc and Alice Davis, Ollie Johnston, Thurl Ravenscroft, (famous as Tony the Tiger’s voice), and of course Leota Toombs and Eleanor Audley. Seriously, look em up.
After riding the ride, we walked back towards the front, and went backstage. Behind all the “show” in Disney, is a lot of plain looking buildings. She then took us to the in the Utilidors. Once again, not part of the show, but allows the show to go, while pumping that safety and efficiency.
Long and the short of it is this. I gave you only a small amount of what we saw and talked about. The tour was great and better than any Disney souvenir I could buy at a store. Yes, even better than getting a photo with that ridiculous upstart “Duffy Bear.” (Who the heck is he?) Tour was extraordinary. Our guide Jessica was phenomenal. If you are going to Disney, check it out.
Author : Coach Ketcham
Teacher, Lover of U.S. History. None of my thoughts are deep, and spelling and grammar are rarely double checked.